During the past 20 years the number of people in the US who are overweight has increased at an alarming rate. In fact, the number has doubled. Findings of the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (NHANES) revealed that approximately 65% of US adults are either overweight or obese, and the greatest increase has occurred in the number of individuals who are obese. One third of all adults now fall in this weight classification.
The increases in overweight and obesity have important health implications for Americans because being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing many chronic health conditions and diseases. These include:
- Abnormal blood fat levels
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
- Respiratory problems including sleep apnea
- Some forms of cancer (breast, colon and endometrial)
What Has Caused This Increase in Weight and Obesity?
What is being called an “obesity epidemic” is the result of many factors including the environment we live in, lifestyle behaviors, and familial tendencies toward becoming overweight. However, because such significant increases in overweight and obesity have occurred in a relatively short time (20 years), we must carefully consider how our environment and eating and physical activity behaviors have changed. These are some trends that have altered how we eat and how we move:
- How we eat
- Food options and selections have expanded
- More fast-foods and pre-packaged foods provide easy and quick access to meals, snacks, and calories
- Soft-drinks and other sweetened beverages have become widely available
- Portion sizes have grown larger
- The amount of fat, sugar and calories hidden in foods and beverages has increased
- The Way We Move
- Technology has created time and labor saving devises that limit physical activity (for example, automobiles, elevators, escalators, dishwashers, riding lawn mowers, remote controls for televisions, garage door openers, and computers).
- Fewer people walk or ride bicycles to go short distances.
- People spend more time participating in sedentary leisure time activities (watching TV, going to movies, playing computer games)
The consequence, for many people, has been energy imbalance and creeping weight gain over time as a result of taking in more calories and burning fewer calories through physical activity.
Energy Balance Principles
Energy Balance: Calories consumed = calories burned => No weight change
Energy Imbalance: Calories consumed ≠ calories burned => Weight change
Weight gain: Calories consumed > calories burned
Weight loss: Calories consumed < calories burned
What To Do About It
If you have been experiencing creeping weight gain and difficulty with maintaining a healthy weight, these are some steps that you can take to work toward reaching and maintaining a healthier weight.
Figure out your weight status and what it means
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number that is calculated from measurements of weight and height. It is related to amount of body fat and is meaningful when considering weight status. The formula for calculating BMI is:
||Weight in pounds X 703
|(Height in inches) X (Height in inches)
If you don’t care to do the math, try the BMI calculator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.
| Weight Classifications Based on BMI
| BMI = Pounds/Inches2
|| Weight Status
| < 18.5<
| 18.5 – 24.9
| 25.0 – 29.9
| > 30.0
Eating pre-portioned, pre-packaged meals combined with developing healthy lifestyle change strategies has been shown to support success with weight management efforts. Good Measure Meals are fresh prepared and are great examples of what healthy, portion-controlled eating is all about. Good Measure may be an ideal option for you!
If your weight falls in the overweight or obese category, a moderate amount of weight loss (just 10 to 20 pounds) can help reduce your health risk. Weight loss is especially important if you have other health risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or sleep apnea.
- Make small changes to reduce the number of calories you take in from foods and beverages and to increase the number of calories you burn through physical activity. If you cut back the number of calories you consume by just 100 calories per day and boost the number of calories you burn by 100 calories per day, you can prevent additional weight gain and may even lose a few pounds.
The America On The Move web site at www.americaonthemove.org offers many helpful tips for cutting back on calories and increasing physical activity throughout the day. Here are a few ideas:
10 Tips For Cutting Out 100 Calories (or more) Per Day
- Have one less soda or juice drink per day
- Leave 4-5 bites of food on your plate at each meal
- Instead of fries, choose a side-salad with light salad dressing
- Eat a small bag of baked chips instead of fried chips
- Split an entrée when you eat out or take half of the serving home for another meal
- Remove the skin from chicken before cooking
- Choose a regular hamburger instead of a quarter pounder (or larger burger)…and leave off the cheese
- Have a single scoop of sorbet or sherbet instead of a large serving of premium ice cream loaded with mix-ins
- Order thin-crust instead of thick-crust pizza and add veggies instead of meat toppings
- Substitute non-fat or reduced-fat dairy products (including milk, coffee creamer, sour cream, yogurt, and cheese) for the full fat alternatives
10 Ways to Burn 100 Calories (or more) Per Day
- Walk one additional mile or take 2,000 additional steps each day
- Dance for 20 minutes
- Spend 30 minutes gardening or doing light yard work
- Swim or do water aerobics for 20 minutes
- Bicycle at a moderate pace for 20 minutes
- Take stairs throughout the day to total 10 minutes of stair walking
- Do light calisthenics and stretching for 30 minute
- Play golf but walk and carry your clubs for at least 20 minutes
- Play basketball for 20 minutes
- Play with your children or grandchildren for 30 minutes
- Get the Support You Need and Find Strategies that Work For You
For many people, losing weight and keeping unwanted pounds off can be challenging. However, certain strategies have been shown to contribute to success. These are a few of them:
- Keep a food and physical activity record
- Weigh yourself regularly - once a day or once a week
- Make small changes that you can stick with
- Set small weekly goals that you can reach
- Develop a support system
- Get involved – develop relationships with others who share your interests
- Be physically active
- Have realistic expectations about weight loss (a weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can improve your health)
- Don’t let small set-backs become big; if you fall off the program, get right back on.
- Seek the help of professionals who specializes in weight loss if you need additional support
For more information and support about weight loss and management, visit these sites:
American Dietetic Association
American Obesity Association
American Society of Bariatric Physicians
National Weight Control Registry
Shape Up America
Weight Control Information Network